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10 Years a Fool: This Ain’t the Black Love I Love

This weekend, all the blogs broke news of the engagement of Dipset rapper Juelz Santana and his longtime girlfriend Kimbella. The rapper proposed at a show at the Apollo Theatre. According to Kimbella, the couple has been together nearly a decade. She took to IG Saturday to issue words of encouragement to other desperate hopeful women saying, “Ladies [,] if that’s the man you want & love [,] you will wait however long if the love is REAL.



As a reality TV fanatic, I’ve watched some of the relationship drama between the newly-engaged couple on Love and Hip Hop. From Kimbella ranting about her man’s repeated infidelity to her admitting to sleeping with rapper Fabolous, presumably while she and Juelz were together, it was a shit show. And the drama wasn’t just on the TV as Santana reportedly beat up the mother of his children over her cheating and has allegedly continued to cheat on her, so much so that the couple broke up last year.

Add to the drama that the “There You Go” rapper tried to sneak a loaded gun and oxycondone onto a plane in a Newark airport, to which he pleaded guilty in August, and you get a sense of what may have prompted Santana to finally pop the question after two kids, years of cheating and four seasons of reality TV. He’s set for sentencing in a couple of weeks on December 12, and faces up to 20 years in prison. That’s a longtime and he’ll need someone on the outside committed enough to keeping money on his books. And who better to hold him down during a potential two-decade bid than the woman who declared she’ll wait however long because the love is real?

Now I’m obsessed with Black love. I will always believe that a healthy, thriving Black community depends on healthy romantic, committed relationships between Black people. I am invested in seeing Black people loving, protecting and building with each other. I believe that marriage is essential to Black couples being able to close the generational wealth gap and raise well-rounded Black children.

But this ain’t Black love.

In this age of social media, showy proposals recorded and posted to Instagram for heart reactions have been sold to us as sure signs of Black love. Too often, these proposals are the result of ultimatums issued to men from women who’ve been strung along, used, abused and manipulated for years. Too many proposals are nothing more than pacifiers to women who need something to hold on to from men who have no intention of ever marrying the women they’ve proposed to, and no intention of correcting their toxic behavior.

And even if Kimbella and Juelz do end up at the altar, what prize is there in enduring suffering for nearly 10 years? Why are we teaching women and girls that their ultimate goal in life is always to land a husband? Why are women in their 30s still content to “wait” as long as the man deems necessary for a man to man up and propose marriage? Why aren’t we teaching women that marriage is not just about a man deciding he only wants to be with one woman, but that marriage is about a woman deciding that a man has made her feel secure that he is able to be the partner she needs, and will improve her lot in life financially and emotionally.

A man on his way to prison for stupidity, because trying to sneak a fucking gun and narcotics on a plane can be called nothing more, probably isn’t that man. A man in his 30s who’s called himself a “family man” but doesn’t have the sense not to jeopardize his presence in his children’s lives over trying to board a plane strapped probably isn’t that man. A man whose proposal includes a rant about you staying down through infidelities and domestic violence accusations probably isn’t that man.

And collectively, Black people need to stop encouraging these kinds of toxic relationships, promoting them as love. BET ran the story with the caption “All The Feels! Watch Juelz Santana Propose To Kimbella After Ten Years And Two Kids,” as if there’s anything about this mess that makes you feel warm and fuzzy . On Facebook Saturday night, Black women were arguing that those criticizing this shit show were just bitter and jealous.

Do better. As a community, as couples, as adults. DO BETTER.

Black women, expect better and accept better. Demand better and receive better. Know that no husband at all is always a better option than being unfulfilled, unloved and unprotected. Understand that your worth neither begins nor ends with whether you have a man. And know that if his love hurts, he ain’t doing it right.

UPDATE: Juelz has since been sentenced to 27 months in prison and is currently serving that sentence. Shade Room announced that Kimbella is six months pregnant with the couple’s third child together.


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Kinfolk Kollective avatar About the author: LaSha is a writer who’s obsessed with Black people. Find her work here of course, but also on Ebony, The Guardian, Essence, Salon, Everyday Feminism, Teen Vogue, HuffPo and For Harriett. She’s loves trap music & 90s R&B, watches Jeopardy faithfully and believes fried chicken is her soulmate. The clapback queen is loud and clear about loving her kids above all else and kinda digs her Yankee husband too. Anti-Blackness gives her hives. Get at her @lashawrites on Twitter.

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